The Currency of Fame

A crore rupees was a distant dream for Manoj Kumar Raina from Kashmir when he reached Mumbai to take part in Kaun Banega Crorepati’s (KBC) sixth season.

Written by PriyankaPereira | Published:September 20, 2012 12:32 am

A crore rupees was a distant dream for Manoj Kumar Raina from Kashmir when he reached Mumbai to take part in Kaun Banega Crorepati’s (KBC) sixth season. Especially since his efforts to participate in the show’s first season had failed when he couldn’t even get through the phone. Five seasons later,it was a poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan—Mehnat karnewalon ki haar nahin hoti — that inspired him to try again. Raina won Rs 1 crore on the first weekend of the season.

“I had to leave Kashmir valley for Jammu in 1989 due to the militancy. I would like to go back and build a house there,” says Raina.

The show’s six seasons have turned eight common Indians into crorepatis,until now. While most remember Harshvardhan Nawathe,the winner of the first season,others include Ravi Saini (KBC Juniors),Vijay and Arundhati Raul (KBC Jodi),Brajesh Dubey (season two),Rahat Taslim (season four),and Sushil Kumar and Anil Kumar Sinha (season five). It’s easy to presume that the wealth has transformed each of their lives,but the fame that followed their win too has played a huge part.

A student of Symbiosis,Pune,Nawathe was an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) aspirant. He got caught up in the fame that the show brought him — attending launches and events — and could not clear the exam. Eventually,the prize money financed his MBA in marketing and public relations at the University of Napier,Edinburgh,and Nawathe is today Chief Operating Officer at the NGO Naandi Foundation,which backs the cause of Mumbai’s slum children.

Insurance surveyor Brajesh Dubey from Guna,Madhya Pradesh,chose to invest the prize money while continuing his job.

Sushil Kumar,on the other hand,continues to reap the benefits of his fame and money. The first to win the entire Rs 5 crore prize money,he returned to television in reality show Jhalak Dikhla Jaa’s ongoing season and managed to stay on for a few weeks even as he continued with his job as a computer operator. “My life is divided into two parts — before KBC and after KBC. I have been able to buy a house in my village Motihari and pay off my family’s debts,” he says.

Not everyone has used up their prize money for personal gain. Sinha,a bank officer from Patna,believes that KBC gave him more than just money —self-confidence and the discipline to think big — and therefore,he wants to give back to society. “My dream,when I came on KBC,was to build a trauma centre,and I have bought the land for it. I have also written a book Kaise Bane Crorepati? based on conversations with crorepatis from previous seasons,which I will launch soon,” he says.

In addition,Sinha also coaches KBC aspirants so that they participate in the show with confidence. “Some of my students have been shortlisted for KBC this year. Let’s also hope for a winner,” he says.

The biggest draw of KBC is that the participants come from all walks of life and from across the country and only their knowledge decides if they return home richer.

Rahat Taslim from Giridih,Jharkhand,proves this. The first and only woman to win the Rs 1 crore prize on the game show,Taslim could not pursue her dream of becoming a teacher because of her family’s conservative views. Instead,she added to the family income by running tailoring classes. “People in my city respect me as a result of the KBC win,” she says. More importantly,Taslim has paid off her father’s debts and invested in her children’s education.

While life is comfortable following the win,most crorepatis have also learned their own lessons. Sinha warns that fame is highly short-lived and of no use in future — something that,perhaps,Nawathe will second. “Although I have bought the land,I haven’t received any help from the government or any other sector to build the trauma centre,” Sinha points out.

Kumar,on the other hand,offers a word of caution,“The amount seems huge when you win it. But,if the money is not used properly,then it may not be much at all,” he says.

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